The question of whether an owner-operator or a company driver path is better for you is wrong.
You should ask yourself if you are ready to keep up with the pros and cons of one path or another.
Below, find the main differences between an owner-operator vs a company driver's path.
Both are essentially the same job when it comes to skill set, right? Not quite. While the basic requirements may be identical, there is a lot between the two positions that distinguish them from one another.
Company drivers vs Owner Operators
Company drivers are traditional employees of a trucking company.
Owner-operators are knowledgeable and disciplined business people.
One of the best things about being a company driver is that, after you are done working for the day, you have no other responsibilities.
Owner-operators must take care of all the aspects of running a trucking business.
They keep up with the bookkeeping, truck maintenance, insurance, fuel efficiency, marketing, finances, legal, Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation, federal and state laws, permits, claim filings, taxes, and recordkeeping, administrative aspects of the business.
That is why owner-operators require higher pay per load compared to the company driver's pay.
Company drivers receive less than an owner- operator per every run but the total paycheck is entirely theirs.
They don't need to make truck payments, repair bills, oil changes, buy down deductible insurance, maintenance costs.
Owner-operators receive a bigger chunk of the total pay for every run.
Company drivers, unlike owner-operators, are employees of a trucking company.
Owner-operators typically do not have, or have very limited benefits, from the trucking company that they contract with.
The company driver's time off is his own. He is free to spend it how he wants.
You may have heard that owner-operators have a more flexible schedule.
But what does that mean?
Owner-operators work on their terms.
They can either drive without time off or they can take off as much time as they want.
Time off for an owner-operator may mean taking the time to do truck maintenance, repair the truck, and pick up or drop it off from the shop.
Those who take care of the business tasks take off time from an owner-operator's home time.
Sometimes, owner-operators don't have much time left over to spend with their families.
Company drivers have more stability and they operate under lower risk than owner-operators do.
In trucking, unexpected things such as breakdowns, accidents, delays, and other unpredictable events happen to every owner-operator.
If company drivers don't like the trucking company they work for, they can simply walk away without the worry of breaking any contractual agreements or losing money.
It is simply a matter of finding another driving job.
For owner-operators, changing the carrier is harder because they have a time period signed in the agreement.
For a company driver there is no other cost than the CDL driver training.
After getting a CDL, the driver may jump in the truck and start earning money.
For owner-operators, the cost of being in the trucking business is much higher.
These costs are often unpredictable and unavoidable.
Some truckers won’t drive anything but a certain engine and transmission combination. And that is a problem for them because, as a company driver, you must drive the truck that you are given.
Owner-operators don’t need to deal with slip seating and other drivers messing with their equipment and changing settings in the truck.
Sometimes, the dispatcher pushes the truck driver that takes the driver out of his comfort zone such as being asked to do an additional load or giving him tight deadlines.
Forced dispatch is not so much of a problem for the truck owner.
The owner operator usually has more choice to pick and choose loads, although this depends mostly on the company.
The truck owner has more control over his job, in general.
Companies tend to ‘cheap out’ on certain things like tires buying lower quality rubber in bulk for their fleet trucks.
If comparing the overall safety of an owner-operator, he may have an edge.
Besides delivering their loads on time, company drivers don't have the amount of stress that owner operators do.
Due to financial risks and pressure, truck payments, unexpected expensive equipment repairs, and unexpected illness, owner-operators can endure a great deal of stress.
Being on top of your finances while being a company driver is easier.
Guessing, rounding, and overestimating your revenue and expenses can be detrimental to any owner-operator.